Checklist: Priorities when seeking trustees

By governance expert Ruth Lesirge

Ruth Lesirge
Ruth Lesirge

"We need a lawyer!" is something I often hear trustees say when they are contemplating the recruitment of new members to their board. Similarly, medical, social care or education professionals are often cited as being essential to the good governance of service delivery. This seems to me to be the wrong place to start.

Any board recruiting new trustees should begin by referring to the charity's strategic plan and the objectives contained in it. These, and the key activities listed in the plan, can help you to deduce the priority areas for trustee input and support.

Similarly, it will allow the board to establish what expertise will be needed in order for trustees, in both subcommittees and full meetings, to monitor and evaluate progress against the targets in the plan. Such deductions, linked to strategic planning, will help trustees to decide what skills, knowledge and experience are required on the board and should therefore inform member recruitment.

However, it is also essential that all board members have an active interest in the board's effectiveness. This will help to drive continuous governance improvement among those who are undoubtedly committed to the cause.

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